Updates
 

In the course of our work at the District Attorney’s Office, we often discover new and better ways to look at, organize, and interpret the data. We make changes and updates to the Public Data Dashboard to keep it as accurate and informative as possible. We also want to be clear to users of this site about the changes we’ve made. This page is a timeline of updates, fixes, and changes that we’ve implemented.

May 26, 2022
We added a story describing how Philadelphia sought accountability and justice following the 2020 civil unrest that immediately followed George Floyd and Walter Wallace’s murders.
April 15, 2022

We have made several content and user experience updates to the dashboard. This is the first in a series of updates over the next few months to improve the dashboard.

  • We have added Withdrawn in the Interest of Justice as a category on the Case Outcomes report and in the downloadable data.

  • We have removed several of the columns comparing time periods beyond year-to-year. While these comparisons were useful at the launch of the dashboard, they have become less so as the time period has increased. The COVID-19 pandemic changed how the court systems functioned, making direct comparisons misleading.

  • We have replaced the color scale for charts on all report pages. There are only so many shades of blue, and we were running out of them.

  • We have changed how the home page pulls data stories and data snapshots. We are now pulling from the new District Attorney’s Office website and providng both data stories and snapshots as separate categories. The Data Stories link in the menu bar has also been updated to link to the new website.

February 16, 2022
We have added ‘Illegal Dumping/Littering’ as an offense category.
January 14, 2022

We made a number of small improvements:

  • We added additional ways to highlight that the criminal legal system has operated differently during the pandemic. There is a popup that appears notifying users, we have highlighted the graph and table for periods during the pandemic, and we have added a note to the table explaining the pandemic’s impact.

  • We added links from the offense categories and case outcomes to the definitions page so that users can understand exactly what each phrase means. We hope this will create a broader understanding of the work we are presenting on the dashboard.

  • The case outcomes includes a row for ‘cases opened at the end of the time period.’ The goal is to help people understand how the backlog of cases has changed during the pandemic, particularly in more serious cases.

  • December 17, 2021
    We have added ‘Victim/Witness Intimidation & Retaliation’ as an offense category.
    December 14, 2021

    Major Update!

  • Offense Categorization: We have changed the way offenses are categorized on the dashboard for arrest and case data. In October 2021, the Philadelphia Police Department ended support for FBI UCR categorization of offenses for cases received by the District Attorney’s Office. This meant that we could no longer use UCR categorization on the Public Data Dashboard. In this update, we have introduced a new classification system that is based on the Pennsylvania statutes of the most serious offense suggested by police for the Arrests and Summary Arrests and the most serious offense charged by the District Attorney’s Office for the Charges, Bail, Outcomes, Case Length, Future Years of Incarceration, Future Years of Supervision, Summary Charges, Summary Case Outcomes, Summary Case Length Reports. The Incidents report is unaffected. While this change means categorizations of an event may change between incident, arrest, and case charging, it allows for a more accurate and complete view of each stage in the process. It also allows us to categorize more offenses than we could previously. For more information about these classifications see this data story and the updated Definitons page. The Limitations page has also been updated to reflect these changes.

  • Technical Updates: We have rewritten the internals of the layout to make use of Bootstrap 5. This will help us maintain a more modern and multi-device compatible layout. We have also made several behind-the-scenes, ease-of-use, and bug fix updates that will improve the overall experience of the site.

  • May 07, 2021
    We have improved our ability to categorize non-traditional diversion programs in our ‘Diversion’ outcome category. In particular we are now capturing cases where a person charged with a misdemeanor (usually drug possession) pleads to a summary offense in lieu of entering a diversion program. Many people in this program are ineligible for other diversion programs. This change was retroactive, so it restated outcomes for prior years. In 2019, for example, it increased the diversion rate for drug possession cases by approximately 6 percentage points.
    April 19, 2021

    We have added a DAO Publications section to the Research Page. This section includes reports on internal studies at the District Attorney’s Office.

    We have also reorganized the menu to simplify it and make it more clear which reports are year-to-date and which are year-end.
    March 25, 2021
    We have added a Research page detailing the work of the DAO DATA Lab and our partners. This page will keep you updated on new research work, publications, and grant partnerships. From this page, you can also subscribe to the DAO DATA Lab email list.
    March 22, 2021

    We have added a line denoting March 2020 to all reports. This was the month that the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown of many essential government functions in Philadelphia, including the court system. It also lead to several policy changes in the Philadelphia Police Department and at the District Attorney’s Office. The purpose of this addition is to enable users of the site to more easily view the data in the context of the pandemic.

    We have also changed the text of two firearms labels to more clearly state what the data shows: ‘All Firearms Offenses’ has become ‘All Firearms Possession’ and ‘Possession of Firearms’ has become ‘Illegal Firearms Possession’.
    December 02, 2020
    We have added quarterly data summarized by Census tract to the Downloads section.
    November 19, 2020
    We added in ‘Non-Fatal Shootings’ as an offense category. We identify these cases based on the Open Data Philly Shooting Victims dataset.
    September 17, 2020
    We are now able to identify cases in which the defendant has been exonerated or won their case on an appeal. This is reflected in the Case Outcomes report. Previously, these cases would appear as ‘Dismissed/Withdrawn/Etc.’ This is counted at the time that the exoneration or resolution of the appeal occurs. As these cases are resolved, you may see minor adjustments to cases in previous years. Details on exonerations can still be found on the Exonerations page.
    July 23, 2020
    We improved the quality of bail information that is on the dashboard. In particular, we can now distingiush between monetary bail and unsecured bail (SOB), we can distinguish ROR from held without bail, and we have very few unknown bail amounts. This was made possible through a large batch of updated data that the DAO received from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
    July 07, 2020
    We added a report detailing the exonerations that have occurred since 2016. You can find basic information about each exoneration and links to more information about exonerations in Philadelphia.
    June 06, 2020
    We added a report that shows the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the criminal justice system in Philadelphia.
    January 24, 2020

    Updates and fixes, including:

    • You can now download daily data by ZIP Code Tabulation Area and weekly data by Census Tract. This was one of the most popularly requested features. Please see the Limitations page for more information on these datasets.
    • We have added 8 new offense categories to the misdemeanor/felony reports: Other Assaults, Sexual Assault and Other Sex Offenses, Fraud/Theft of Services, Embezzlement, Possession of Firearms, Prostitution/Sex Work, Patronizing Prostitutes, and Threats of Violence. Similar categories were added to the Incidents report, although the incidents data available on OpenDataPhilly is not as fine-grained as our other data so the new incident categories are a bit more general.
    • We have added two new tabs: Firearms and Other.
    • We have now added reports on summary offenses for Arrests, Charges, Case Length, and Case Outcomes. These help to fill a hole in the original dashboard, which only reported on felony and misdemeanor offenses and therefore missed an important part of the system. Many of the offense categories reported on are the same as for felony and misdemeanors, although several are not reported on (e.g. violent offenses tend to not be summaries) and others have been added (e.g. Disorderly Conduct). In all, we report on the 9 most common summary offenses.
    • You can now view year end data as well as year to date data. Year end reports are available through the navigation menu at the top of the page. Rather than just viewing what has happened since January 1 of each year, these reports allow you to view years as a whole.
    • A small error was found in how we have been connecting arrests to case information. This caused a small number, about 0.5%, of cases to be duplicated in the Charges, Bail, Outcomes, Case Length, Future Years of Incarceration, and Future Years of Supervision reports. This error has been fixed, and the total count of cases in these reports have decreased slightly as a result.
    • The line chart on the Violent Offenses tab on the Bail Report was reporting by quarter. This has been changed to report by month.
    • The Arrests report inadvertantly excluded arrests where there was no date of birth listed for the defendant. These cases are now included.
    • A bug causing some Safari users to experience issues when interacting with the report tables has been fixed.
    January 08, 2020
    Hotfix: Fixed the calculation of 18-present year averages related to the start of the new year. Data downloads were not affected by this bug.
    December 31, 2019
    Hotfix: Fixed a calculation issue that would cause the dashboard build to fail at the start of the new year. Users should not notice a difference in functionality.
    October 24, 2019
    Added Updates page.
    October 22, 2019
    We discovered that due to server issues in May and June of 2019, we were missing some sentencing information from that time. This caused artifically low numbers to appear in the Future Years of Supervision and Future Years of Incarceration reports for these months. We have updated how we connect cases to their sentence information, and are now capturing this missing data. We are also capturing more sentencing information in other time frames, though the impact is not as noticeable.
    October 09, 2019
    Various bug fixes, including:
  • Fixed header scaling on small screens.
  • A broken link to our GitHub Repository on the How to Use This Site page has been repaired.
  • Fixed how some ‘Key Metrics’ arrow symbols render on iOS devices.
  • Changed how many significant figures are shown on the Rates tab on the Future Years of Supervision and Future Years of Incarceration reports.
  • October 03, 2019
    The Philadelphia DAO Public Data Dashboard Released! See the District Attorney’s statement here: Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office launches public data tool.